juvenile law; criminal law; interrogations; police deception


Although perjury is a criminal offense in all states and a felony in many, law enforcement may routinely lie to suspects during interrogations. This widespread, judicially authorized practice consists of interrogators making false promises of leniency that the suspect will receive a lighter sentence in exchange for a confession, and making misrepresentations about the evidence against the suspect. Police deception in interrogations becomes even more problematic when used against juvenile suspects because the psychological vulnerability of minors may lead them to succumb to deceptive pressures and even to falsely confess.

This Note explores the debate surrounding the use of police deception tactics in interrogations and suggests that, for juvenile suspects, the practice should be categorically barred through state legislation. The suggestibility and susceptibility of youth render them more likely to falsely confess than adults are. This Note argues that deceptive interrogation tactics inherently violate due process rights by allowing law enforcement to lie to youth who are more likely to believe them than adult suspects are. Because of these concerns, deception in juvenile interrogations should be prohibited per se through state legislation. Such legislation should categorically prohibit law enforcement from intentionally misrepresenting the evidence available against the juvenile suspect or from intentionally engaging in other deceptive practices that are fundamentally unfair and unjust.